Looks like runners' spirit

It's time for residents to tie up their laces for the annual Newport-Mesa Spirit Run in Newport Beach.

The run, staged at Fashion Island on Sunday, is in its 28th year.

The race includes a half-mile course for children under 7 and an adult 10k run. Registration begins at 6 a.m., with the first run at 7 a.m.

"You don't have to run. You can walk or jog. Whatever you want [the Spirit Run] to be, it is," said organizer Diane Daruty. "I just wanted to keep it alive. "

Earlier this year the Newport Beach tradition faced funding issues when the original five elementary schools — Harbor View, Andersen, Eastbluff, Newport Coast and Lincoln — couldn't donate the $20,000 it took to participate, according to Corona del Mar Today.

Daruty, a PTA mom and Eastbluff track coach, hit the ground running when she heard that the Spirit Run was in trouble.

"The thought of losing such a great event on so many levels … I thought I would do whatever I could to keep it alive," she said. "I just think it's an incredible local tradition and fitness event."

She started a nonprofit organization, turned concerned parents into board members and made the event open to all schools in Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

It's not all about running. The event will also host the Newport Expo, with activities such as a professional skateboard demonstration, crafts, games, rock climbing and bungee jumping.

To include as many students as possible, the Spirit Run is offering scholarships for low-income students who can't cover the registration costs. With their sponsorship, they also get free admission to Newport Expo.

For families in Newport-Mesa who are affected by the drive, the Spirit Run is providing bus transportation to the event from the participating district schools.

Daruty thanked her local sponsors, which have helped them raise more than they have in the last six years. The Daily Pilot is sponsoring the Youth 5k.

"It's a very unique opportunity to raise money for the district," she said. "The way times are, we need to hold onto these things. We need to have as many fundraisers as we can."

Daruty said that in past years, as much as $70,000 was raised for Newport-Mesa schools.

Registration is available online or at Road Runner Sports, 1835 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa.

For more information and race times, visit http://www.nmspiritrun.org.

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